China’s President Xi Jinping on Thursday told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that both countries should oppose interference by “external forces”, Chinese state media reported, as the two leaders spoke on the phone to mark Lunar New Year.

Beijing and Moscow are staunch allies and have strengthened their relationship even as many countries have turned their backs on Russia over its invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.

The two sides have maintained a steady flow of high-level visits and dialogue, and trade between them reached a record high in 2023.

During Thursday’s phone call, Xi said that they “should closely collaborate strategically, defend the sovereignty, security and development interests of their respective countries, and resolutely oppose interference in internal affairs by external forces”, a readout from state broadcaster CCTV said.


Putin told Xi that ties between China and Russia were at “an unprecedentedly high level”, a Kremlin readout said.

Beijing has drawn criticism from Ukraine’s allies for its stance on the war, on which China insists it is neutral.

China itself has been denounced, notably by the United States, over a number of thorny issues, including increasingly belligerent behaviour towards self-ruled democratic Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its territory.

“In discussing the situation in the Asia-Pacific region, the Russian President reaffirmed his principled position on the Taiwan issue, which is to support the ‘one China’ policy,” said the Kremlin readout.

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On the way, the American Stratofortress planes flew above the Barents Sea to point-blank cruise missile range of the main air base used by Russia for its own bomber strikes against Ukraine.

Xi said China and Russia had “weathered many storms together”, CCTV reported.

“Looking ahead, China-Russia relations are facing new opportunities for development,” he said.

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